If you make your money online, you need to make sure your site is mobile-friendly or you will likely soon be left behind.
Although the first device that can be called a “smartphone” dates to 1994 and the earliest commercial tablet computers date to the 1980s, the mobile revolution was really started with the introduction of the iPad in 2010. The following year, Android versions came on strong as competitors. At the time, they were quite expensive and only available to well-heeled, early adopters.
But the price of mobile technology has come down dramatically in the few short years since the introduction of the iPad. Nearly half of all searches are now made on smartphones and they are so cheap that they are increasingly available to the very poorest of Americans: The homeless.
This trend has made mobile the hot new ticket. When Kim Kardashian was interviewed by Forbes regarding her highly profitable mobile game app, she remarked that she spends all her time on mobile and could not remember the last time she logged in on a proper PC. She is apparently not the only American who uses her mobile devices constantly, her PC not so much.
In what is likely to be a watershed moment, Google has announced that it is not only splitting search results so as to distinguish mobile SEO from desktop SEO, it is making mobile search the primary index and desktop search the secondary index. Of the two indices, the mobile index will update more frequently. This radical change is expected to happen some time in the next few months.
It was first announced at Pubcon 2016 in Las Vegas by Keynote speaker Gary Illyes of Google. It was then confirmed via tweet, the hot new way to get your news in small bites — or is that bytes?
Although some sources are calling this “a natural progression in Google’s quest to create a better mobile search experience,’ it makes more sense to view it as a natural progression of the exploding mobile market. If you want to remain number one in this fast-paced digital world, you have no real choice but to keep up with this widespread consumer trend.
Google is not leading the way here. Consumers are. Google is merely recognizing the paradigm shift occurring out in the world and responding to trends it has no real control over. Mobile is in the process of overtaking desktop search and the ceiling on this growing market is not yet in sight. Another milestone in this ongoing process was the so-called Mobilegeddon in April 2015, when Google announced its latest mobile-friendly algorithm update.
Splitting the search index into two indices will allow Google to crawl the mobile version of a site and assess it separately from the desktop version of the site. This will help improve things both for the owners of mobile-optimized sites and for consumers relying heavily on their smartphones for accessing information on the internet. Additionally, it is expected to improve Google’s ability to deliver breaking news.
Website owners need to take heed. If you make your money online, you need to make sure your site is mobile-friendly or you will likely soon be left behind. It isn’t enough to be mobile-friendly. Increasingly, your site needs to load fast. More than half of all users abandon the attempt to look at something if it doesn’t load in under 3 seconds.
If you do not know your site’s mobile load speed, now is the time to find it out. There are tools available to help you analyze such details. You need to keep your load times as low as you can. If appropriate, seek to get your site listed in Google News as well. This can help fast-track your site and improve visibility.
Google has not given a date for when it will split its index into two tiers, but site owners should prepare their sites for this change before it happens. Given the lack of a specified date, the sooner this is addressed, the better. If you wait, you may find your site dying on the vine overnight with no remedy.